FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will ask for either a full commission vote on the stay before parts of the rules take effect next Thursday or he will instruct FCC staff to delay part of the rules pending a commission vote, a spokesman said Friday.
The rules, passed when the FCC had a Democratic majority, require broadband providers to receive opt-in customer permission to share sensitive personal information, including web-browsing history, geolocation, and financial details, with third parties. Without the stay, the opt-in requirements were scheduled to take effect next week.
But critics have complained that the rules only apply to ISPs, and not to giant online companies, like Google and Facebook, that collect huge amounts of personal data. And the FCC rules hold ISPs to a higher privacy standard than the case-by-case privacy enforcement that the Federal Trade Commission uses when investigating other companies, critics say.
Supporters of the strong ISP privacy rules say broadband providers have huge opportunities to collect customers’ personal information. And U.S. law gives the FCC little authority to regulate the privacy practices of companies that aren’t network service providers.
“Chairman Pai believes that the best way to protect the online privacy of American consumers is through a comprehensive and uniform regulatory framework,” an FCC spokesman said by email. “All actors in the online space should be subject to the same rules, and the federal government shouldn’t favor one set of companies over another.”
Republican Pai has promised to roll back many of the regulations passed while Democrat Tom Wheeler served as FCC chairman. This week, the FCC voted to roll back some net neutrality regulations that require broadband providers to inform customers about their network management practices.
Pai’s decision to stay the privacy rules goes against U.S. law requiring the agency to protect customers of telecom networks, said Matt Wood, policy director at digital rights group Free Press.
Pai’s decision, however, earned praise from former Representative Rick Boucher, a Democrat who has criticized FCC regulations in recent years.
The stay is “a smart first step toward rolling back asymmetrical regulation that is at odds with consumers’ privacy expectations, deters innovation and causes marketplace distortion,” said Boucher, now honorary chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, a broadband advocacy group.
Alphabet Inc’s Waymo self-driving car unit filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies and its autonomous trucking subsidiary Otto last Thursday over allegations of theft of its confidential and proprietary sensor technology.
Waymo accused Uber and Otto, acquired by the ride services company in August, with stealing confidential information on Waymo’s Lidar sensor technology to help speed its own efforts in autonomous technology.
“Uber’s LiDAR technology is actually Waymo’s LiDAR technology,” said Waymo’s complaint in the Northern District of California.
Uber said it took “the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously and we will review this matter carefully.”
Lidar, which uses light pulses reflected off objects to gauge their position on or near the road, is a crucial component of autonomous driving systems. Previous systems have been prohibitively expensive and Waymo sought to design one over 90 percent cheaper, making its Lidar technology among the company’s “most valuable assets,” Waymo said.
Waymo is seeking an unspecified amount of damages and a court order preventing Uber from using its proprietary information.
Otto launched with much fanfare in May, due in part to the high profile of one of its co-founders, Anthony Levandowski, who had been an executive on Google’s self-driving project. Uber acquired the company in August for what Waymo said in the lawsuit was $680 million.
Waymo said that before Levandowski’s resignation in January 2016 from Google, whose self-driving unit was renamed Waymo in December, he downloaded over 14,000 confidential files, including Lidar circuit board designs, thereby allowing Uber and Otto to fast-track its self-driving technology.
Waymo accused Levandowski of attempting to “erase any forensic fingerprints” via a reformat of his laptop.
“While Waymo developed its custom LiDAR systems with sustained effort over many years, defendants leveraged stolen information to shortcut the process and purportedly build a comparable LiDAR system in only nine months,” the complaint said.
Last month, Tesla Inc electric car company sued the former head of its Autopilot system. It said he tried to recruit Tesla engineers for his new venture with the former head of Google’s self-driving program while still working there, and said he stole proprietary data belonging to Tesla.
Waymo’s lawsuit said it learned of this use of trade secrets and patent infringement after it was inadvertently copied on an email from a component vendor that included a design of Uber’s Lidar circuit board, which bore a “striking resemblance” to Waymo’s design.
Waymo noted that Google devoted over seven years to self-driving cars and said Uber’s forays into the technology through a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University had stalled by early 2016.
While research groups like IDC and Gartner have shown an overall 15.6 decrease in worldwide tablet shipments in 2016, the market has not gone entirely belly-up, as Amazon continues to pull ahead with a phenomenal 99.4 percent increase in annual tablet growth during the same period.
According to a report by the folks at TrendForce, Amazon managed to ship 11 million Fire-series tablets over the course of 2016 even as global tablet shipments fell by 6.6 percent from the previous year. While the sales numbers were impressive, the company still fell behind Apple at 27 percent of the market and Samsung at 17.2 percent, yet managed to beat expectations as a result of strong year-end holiday sales.
Apple also pulled ahead with strong tablet sales last year and retained its top spot, selling 42 million devices to Samsung’s 27 million. A few weeks ago, we wrote that IDC may have regretted telling the media to rely on expectations that the fruit-themed device company would allegedly oversee the decline of traditional PC sales by 2015. While traditional PC sales dropped 5.7 percent to 260.2 million in 2016, they still remain an impressive part of the overall device market and have not fallen as quickly as tablets have over the past year.
TrendForce expects tablet sales to continue declining from 157.4 million units in 2016 to around 147.8 million units 2017. While Amazon nearly doubled its annual shipments and Apple enjoyed strong iPad sales over the holiday season, other brands such as Microsoft are expected to fall into 7th place as the company experiences panel shortages for its Surface Pro series.
For a limited time, Amazon will occasionally offer its 7-inch 8GB Fire Essentials bundle and its 16GB Fire Essentials Bundle at discounted prices. For instance, the former had been available for $33.33 in November and $49.99 until earlier this month, along with free Prime shipping. The company is expected to offer similar deals throughout the year in an effort to strengthen its sales base from loyal Prime customers.
Verizon will begin pilot testing 5G “pre-commercial services” in cities, including Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
The company had said last July that it laid out plans to conduct trials for its 5G network this year.
New 5G networks are expected to provide speeds at least 10 times and up to maybe 100 times faster than today’s 4G networks, with the potential to connect at least 100 billion devices with download speeds that can reach 10 gigabits per second.
AT&T Inc said in January that it planned to test its high-speed wireless 5G network for customers of its online streaming television service, DirecTv Now, in Austin, Texas.
MediaTek is planning a Helio X30 in 10nm later this year but news from Taiwan indicates that some key customers didn’t order the new flagship 10 core chip.
One of the main reasons might be the increased competition in the Chinese market and companies cannot afford to have two designs of the same phone with Qualcomm or a MediaTek chip in. The rumor is that Xiaomi, MediaTek’s big customer, might be coming up with its own Pinecone SoC and this will put some additional pressure on MediaTek’s high-end. There might be two Pinecones SoCs targeted at the mainstream and high end market.
LeEco, another big MediaTek customer is going through tough financial times, and was not interested in making big orders. Hope, which is the number one smartphone vendor in China, is usually a big customer. Another big one that usualy goes with MediaTek is the current number 3 in China, Vivo. The number two, Huawei has its own Kirin SoC while the number Four, the fruity Apple has its own SoC.
Oppo is MediaTek’s big hope as is Vivo. Oppo and Vivo are expected to sell 120 million and 100 million smartphones respectively in 2017.
The upcoming Snapdragon 835 SoC is also going to give Mediatek bother. It is shaping up to become one of the best, if not the best phone SoC of all times. MediaTek usually has a pricing advantage over most of its competitors so it might compete against it on price.
This is a TSMC manufactured chip based on the the long relationship that the company has with the biggest chip foundry which is across the street from MedaiTek’s headquarter in Hsinchu, Taiwan. The end result might be the massive cancellation of 10nm wafer orders at TSMC, as there wont be anyone who would want to buy. The timing could not be worse, as this is the first time MediaTek wanted to take the leap of faith and bet on the farm with the latest and greatest 10nm . Now it looks like it will have to cancel a lot of the 10nm orders. Still a few phones with Helio X30 deca core will hit the market.
Facebook Inc is currently negotiating with Major League Baseball to live stream one game per week during the upcoming season, which could be a key win as the social media platform works to offer more live sports, according to two people familiar with the situation.
Facebook has pushed to sign deals with owners of sports rights to live stream their games, going after an audience that competitor Twitter Inc is also trying to capture, according to sports media consultants.
For social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, live streaming sports is key to attracting people since sports is one of the few types of content that people still watch live.
“Facebook is aggressively going after sports content and they are now one of a number of competitors to traditional media outlets that are going after sports programming,” said sports media consultant Lee Berke. “It makes perfect sense that they would be going after name brand properties like the MLB.”
The companies were in advanced talks, according to one source. It was unclear which games MLB would live stream on Facebook. A representative for Facebook and MLB declined to comment.
By partnering with Facebook, MLB would get access to a young audience at a massive scale, consultants said.
The size of Facebook’s reach was a big reason Univision Communications Inc decided to use Facebook Live to live stream Mexican soccer matches in English, said Tonia O’Connor, chief commercial officer and president of content distribution at Univision.
Under that deal, Facebook will live stream 46 matches by Mexican soccer league Liga MX in 2017. Terms were not disclosed.
Over the past few months, Facebook has live streamed global basketball and soccer matches and table tennis.
Verizon Communications Inc reconfirmed plans to acquire Yahoo Inc’s core business for $4.48 billion, lowering its original offer by $350 million in the wake of two massive cyber attacks at the internet company.
The closing of the deal, which was first announced in July, had been delayed as the companies assessed the fallout from two data breaches that Yahoo disclosed last year. The No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier had been trying to persuade Yahoo to amend the terms of the agreement following the attacks.
Verizon and Yahoo signed the deal on Sunday evening after weeks of talks that included calls with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and a meeting between Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam and Yahoo director Tom McInerney in New York earlier this month to agree on the amount of the price reduction, a person involved in the talks said.
The two sides had an agreement in principle about a week earlier that included a liability sharing agreement, something that Verizon decided early on that it needed to reach a deal.
Verizon conducted brand studies and found that Yahoo’s reputation was holding up after the hacks, the person said. The company decided to proceed in part because it continued to believe that the deal made strategic sense and that users were loyal and engaged.
The companies said on Tuesday they expect the deal to close in the second quarter. The data breach may delay some integration of Yahoo with Verizon after the closing, the person said.
The deal brings to Verizon Yahoo’s more than 1 billion users and a wealth of data it can use to offer more targeted advertising. Verizon will combine Yahoo’s advertising technology tools as well as its search, email and messenger assets with its AOL unit, purchased for $4.4 billion in 2015.
Verizon’s shares rose 0.3 percent to $49.33 in afternoon trading, while Yahoo’s shares were up 0.8 percent at $45.48.
Under the amended terms, Yahoo and Verizon will split cash liabilities related to some government investigations and third-party litigation related to the breaches.
Yahoo, however, will continue to be responsible for liabilities from shareholder lawsuits and SEC investigations.
Yahoo said in December that data from more than 1 billion user accounts was compromised in August 2013, making it the largest breach in history.
This followed the company’s disclosure in September that at least 500 million accounts were affected in another breach in 2014.
Japan’s Toshiba Corp wished to receive at least 1 trillion yen ($8.8 billion) by selling most of its flash memory chip business, seeking to create a buffer for any fresh financial problems, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The beleaguered conglomerate was pressured to abandon an initial plan to sell just under 20 percent by its main creditor banks which are worried about potential writedowns that may come on top of $6.3 billion hit to its U.S. nuclear unit, financial sources also said.
Toshiba said last week it is now prepared to sell a majority stake or even all of its chip business, the world’s biggest NAND chip producer after Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, also rocked by the emergence of fresh problems at its Westinghouse unit that have delayed the release of earnings.
The company has not decided on the size of the stake to be sold, preferring to focus on the amount that can be raised but would like to retain a one-third holding as that would give it a degree of control over the business, the source with direct knowledge said.
Its willingness to relinquish so much of the unit underscores not only the depths of its financial woes but also resignation on the part of management to becoming a much smaller company.
The sale “is the best and the only way Toshiba can raise a large amount of funds and wipe out concerns about its credit risk,” said the source, adding that the sale should be completed by the end of March next year.
It wants to restart the sale process as soon as possible and may sell to multiple buyers rather than one bidder with interest already received from investment funds, other chipmakers and client companies, he also said.
A separate person with knowledge of the matter said Toshiba will outline terms of the sale by the end of February, conduct a first round of bids in March and aim to have chosen a preferred bidder or bidders by the end of May. The person also said Toshiba valued the chips business at around 1.5 trillion yen.
A Toshiba spokeswoman said the company cannot comment on the specifics of the sale process. Sources declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
A patent war is being fought between two of the industry smartphone leaders of yesteryear – Nokia and Blackberry.
Blackberry filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Nokia Oyj, demanding royalties on the Finnish company’s mobile network products that use an industry wide technology standard.
Blackberry moaned that Nokia’s Flexi Multiradio base stations, radio network controllers and Liquid Radio software are using technology covered by as many as 11 patents owned by BlackBerry.
It added that Nokia was encouraging the use” of the standard- compliant products without a license from Blackberry.
Blackberry did not say how much it wanted Nokia to cough up, but it would appear to be part of Chief Executive Officer John Chen is working to find new ways to pull revenue out of Blackberry’s technology.
He’s used acquisitions to add a suite of software products and negotiated licensing agreements to take advantage of the company’s thick book of wireless technology patents.
Nokia is aware of the inventions because the company has cited some of the patents in some of its own patent applications, BlackBerry said.
Some of the patents were owned by Nortel and Nokia had at one point tried to buy them as part of a failed bid for Nortel’s business in 2009, according to Blackberry.
BlackBerry was part of a group called Rockstar Consortium that bought Nortel’s patents out of bankruptcy for $4.5 billion in 2011. The patents were split up between the members of the group, which included Apple and Microsoft.
Since Blackberry contends that patents cover essential elements of a mobile telecommunications standard known as 3GPP, it has pledged to license them on fair and reasonable terms.
General Motors Co plans to add thousands of self-driving electric cars in a series of test fleets in partnership with ride-sharing affiliate Lyft Inc, beginning in 2018, two sources familiar with the automaker’s plans said this week.
It is expected to be the largest such test of fully autonomous vehicles by any major automaker before 2020, when several companies have said they plan to begin building and deploying such vehicles in higher volumes. Alphabet Inc’s Waymo subsidiary, in comparison, is currently testing about 60 self-driving prototypes in four states.
Most of the specially equipped versions of the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle will be used by San Francisco-based Lyft, which will test them in its ride-sharing fleet in several states, one of the sources said. GM has no immediate plans to sell the Bolt AV to individual customers, according to the source.
The sources spoke only on condition of anonymity because GM has not announced its plans yet.
GM executives have said in interviews and investor presentations during the past year they intend to mass-produce autonomous vehicles and deploy them in ride services fleets. However, GM officials have not revealed details of the scale of production, or the timing of the deployment of those vehicles.
In a statement on Friday, GM said: “We do not provide specific details on potential future products or technology rollout plans. We have said that our AV technology will appear in an on-demand ride sharing network application sooner than you might think.”
Lyft declined to comment.
Announced officially by AMD and to be held on February 28th at Ruby Skye in San Francisco, the new Capsaicin and Cream event promises “a feature-packed show highlighting the hottest new graphics and VR technologies propelling the games industry forward”.
Streamed live, the event will include the main Capsaicin & Cream part, which will hopefully include a bit more details on the actual lineup of graphics cards based on the new Vega GPU, as well as the Cream developer sessions which promise “inspiring talks focused on rendering ideas and new paths forward, driven by game industry gurus from multiple companies including Epic and Unity”.
The event will start at 10:00 AM PST, while the livestream is scheduled to start at 10:30 AM PST (20:00 CET).
While harmless to living organisms, a small number of these particles have enough energy to interfere with the operation of the microelectronic circuitry in our personal devices. It’s called a single-event upset or SEU.
During an SEU, particles alter an individual bit of data stored in a chip’s memory. Consequences can be as trivial as altering a single pixel in a photograph or as serious as bringing down a passenger jet.
An SEU was also blamed for an electronic voting error in Schaerbeekm, Belgium, back in 2003. A bit flip in the electronic voting machine added 4,096 extra votes to one candidate. The issue was noticed only because the machine gave the candidate more votes than were possible.
“This is a really big problem, but it is mostly invisible to the public,” said Bharat Bhuva. Bhuva is a member of Vanderbilt University’s Radiation Effects Research Group, established in 1987 to study the effects of radiation on electronic systems. The group initially focused on military and space applications, but since 2001 has expanded to studying radiation’s effect on consumer electronics.
Bhuva, a professor of electrical engineering at Vanderbilt, gave a presentation on SEUs Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston.
Despite some serious examples, SEUs are still fairly rare events. But as the number of transistors being used in new electronic systems increases, so does the probability of an SEU failure on the device level.
Semiconductor manufacturers seem to have caught on to the trend and are working to diminish the interference of cosmic rays. For instance, in 2008, Fujitsu engineers climbed a Hawaiian volcano to better understand how comic rays cause computer errors.
Researchers from antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab took seven of the most popular Android apps that accompany connected cars from various manufacturers, and analyzed them from the perspective of a compromised Android device. The apps and manufacturers have not been named.
The researchers looked at whether such apps use any of the available countermeasures that would make it hard for attackers to hijack them when the devices they’re installed on are infected with malware. Other types of applications, such as banking apps, have such protections.
The analysis revealed that none of the tested applications used code obfuscation to make it harder for attackers to reverse-engineer them, and none of them used code integrity checks to prevent malicious manipulation.
Two applications didn’t encrypt the login credentials stored locally and four encrypted only the password. None of the apps checked if the devices they’re running on are rooted, which could indicate that they’re insecure and possibly compromised.
Finally, none of the tested applications used overlay protections to prevent other apps from drawing over their screens. There are malware apps that display fake log-in screens on top of other apps to trick users to expose their log-in credentials.
While compromising connected-car apps might not directly enable theft, it could make it easier for would-be thieves. Most such apps, or the credentials they store, can be used to remotely unlock the vehicle and disable its alarm system.
Also, the risks are not “limited to mere car theft,” the Kaspersky researchers said in a blog post. “Accessing the car and deliberate tampering with its elements may lead to road accidents, injuries, or death.”
While manufacturers are rushing to add smart features to cars that are meant to improve the experience for car owners, they tend to focus more on securing the back-end infrastructure and the communications channels. However, the Kaspersky researchers warn, that client-side code, such as the accompanying mobile apps, should not be ignored as it’s the easiest target for attackers and most likely the most vulnerable spot.
“Being an expensive thing, a car requires an approach to security that is no less meticulous than that of a bank account,” the researchers said.
For many, the success of Resident Evil 7 and its atmospheric campaign has offered a glimpse of what a “killer app” for virtual reality might look like; the game that shifts the common perception of VR from an intriguing glimpse of the future, to an essential part of contemporary entertainment. The term will be familiar to anyone who has seen the launch of a new console, but, as a panel of experts discussed today at Casual Connect Europe, VR defies such easy categorization.
The discussion was triggered by nDreams CEO Patrick O’Luanaigh, who was in the crowd to watch a panel that included representatives from Valve and Nvidia. When asked to pin down his definition of the term “Killer App,” O’Luanaigh said, “it’s less about revenue, more something that everybody talks about. A lot of people say that VR hasn’t had that killer game yet.
“If we look to the consoles we might say, ‘You have to have your Mario or your Sonic.’ But do you?”
“There’s lots of cool stuff out there, but nothing that really makes you feel, ‘Oh my god, this is so amazing, I have to go and buy a headset.’ We’re all saying that we want games like that to come, and as budgets go up hopefully that will happen. It’s really about where that game might come from.”
For Chet Faliszek, who has become the globe-trotting representative for Valve’s VR efforts, the very notion of a ‘Killer App’ seemed to belong more to traditional game hardware – the consoles made by Nintendo, Sega, Sony and Microsoft. “We have so few data points to extrapolate from to figure out what this is,” he said. “If we look to the consoles we might say, ‘You have to have your Mario, or your Sonic.’ But do you?”
Faliszek referred to a talk he gave the previous day, in which he suggested smartphones as a more appropriate comparison for VR technology. “What was the killer app for the App Store?” he asked the crowd the previous day. “I would argue it was flexibility; the ability to become different for each person. If you’d have asked me 20 years ago what feature do I most want on my phone, I probably would say something about making phone calls; now I rarely make a phone call.
Faliszek emphasized this point again, and suggested that some of the difficulty analysts have faced in grappling with the VR market relates to this kind of misunderstanding. “That’s why there’s slower growth in virtual reality than other people predicted – the analysts,” he continued. “Whereas I think people in the [VR] industry have the understanding that, if you demo ten individual things, out of those one person would say, ‘Why is this thing in there?’ And the next person would go, ‘That’s the best thing ever.’
“Today’s high-end becomes tomorrow’s mainstream… If you develop for the high-end, you know that’s going to have the longest tail”
“You have these personal reactions… Everybody finds that thing in there that they want to have.”
It was telling that, when asked about the most impressive applications for virtual reality right now, Faliszek listed tools for creativity: Google’s Tilt Brush, and the VR development capabilities offered by engines from Unity and Epic. There is a desire for a fully formed consumer market for VR to hurry up and arrive already, but the truth may be that, even a year after the launch of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the space is still best defined by its creators and the broad range of use cases they are attempting to discover.
However, one basic truth was mentioned on several occasions, starting with O’Luanaigh’s original question about the importance of positional head-tracking and motion controls becoming standard in mobile VR. These are core features the current high-end of VR hardware – including, but not limited to, the HTC Vive – but Faliszek also believes this is the smartest target for any developer wanting to reach the largest possible audience.
“If you want to make the most money in VR, you should make [games] for the largest addressable market,” he said. “The largest addressable market right now may be headsets that are rotational only, but they will be museum piece in a couple of years. If you make something that has positionally tracked head and motion controls you can probably still be selling that game years from now – or some version of that. If you did rotational only? Someone has to pull a headset out of the closet to experience that. The shelf life of that product is going to be much shorter.”
Faliszek made a similar point the day before, advising Casual Connect’s attendees that, “today’s high-end becomes tomorrow’s mainstream. If you really want to think about the largest addressable market, it’s not about the number of headsets out there for any one platform. It’s what will become the standard. If you develop for the high-end, you know that’s going to have the longest tail.”
Despite the probable advantage in the number of headset owners, then, mobile VR may have to reach a better technological standard to be a better commercial opportunity. No part of the VR market offers a huge installed base at present anyway, and, as Faliszek pointed out, “a game that works on 5 million [mobile] headsets this year isn’t necessarily going to work on 50 million headsets in a few years’ time.”
Tata Motors Ltd and Microsoft India both announced a strategic collaboration on the technology front to make driving a more personalized experiences for the customers, the companies said in a joint statement.
The first vehicle showcasing the vision of the enhanced driving experiences will be unveiled at the Geneva International Motor show on March 7, they said.
“Using IoT (internet of things), AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning technologies, we will provide vehicle owners in India and across the world a safe, productive and fun driving experience,” Anant Maheshwari, President at Microsoft India, said.
Tata Motors CEO Guenter Butschek said at a press conference that he saw the tie-up creating new revenue opportunities for the company as car buyers increasingly look for value-added services.